HP Partners Follow Hurd To Oracle

Oracle's hiring of former HP President and CEO Mark Hurd is causing several of HP's long-term solution providers to consider signing up to offer Oracle-Sun hardware, a move many of them would have considered inconceivable only a week ago.

The combination of Hurd's channel and customer savvy and his penchant for sparking new life into old companies is causing HP's solution providers to look past what they earlier criticized as Oracle's direct sales focus and Sun's inability to market its technology.

Hurd last month departed HP after an investigation into what the company called improperly filed expenses and an improper relationship with a sub-contractor.

Hurd late Monday was announced as a new co-president at Oracle.

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Bob Venero, the president and CEO of Future Tech Enterprise, a Holbrook, N.Y. VAR 500 company, said he is planning to put more sales and technical resources into an Oracle-focused practice to capitalize on the channel changes that Hurd is likely to make at the company.

"Look at what Mark accomplished at HP," Venero said. "When an individual like Mark Hurd goes to a new company and is going to make changes, we want to be on the forefront of those changes versus being on the tail end of it. We want to be there with Oracle at the start of the new Mark Hurd era versus at the tail end when it has already been established, built and baked."

Oracle's channel strategy until now has been convoluted, but Hurd will bring vision and direction to that strategy, Venero said. "The channel is in Mark's DNA. I see Oracle moving from a convoluted channel to a highly focused channel machine that leverages the channel to grow in both the channel and in customer penetration."

Venero said Hurd's appointment also signals Oracle's intent to dramatically grow its business with additional big-bang acquisitions similar to those Hurd oversaw during his tenure at HP.

Next: Hurd Could Revamp Oracle's Channel Focus

"With acquisitions and a channel focused initiative, Hurd can scale Oracle to three times what it is today," Venero said. "Today we have no real focused plan around Oracle. Post-Hurd, we will have an absolute business plan on how to make the new Oracle under Mark's leadership a bigger part of Future Tech."

Don Richie, CEO of Sequel Data Systems, an Austin, Texas-based solution provider and long-time HP partner, said he is no Sun fan.

"But if Hurd does for Oracle what he did at HP, there's a good chance that a lot of HP partners will look at Oracle-Sun," Richie said.

Hurd generated a lot of partner loyalty during his tenure at HP, including at Sequel, Richie said. "He did a lot for us, including sales calls that were partner-focused," he said.

Richie said he is concerned about the health of HP's channels in the wake of the departure of Hurd and of the shift in responsibilities of Adrian Jones, HP's former vice president and general manager for the Americas Solution Provide Organization who is now the vice president and general manager for HP's enterprise storage and server business in Asia Pacific and Japan.

"HP's channels are getting more complicated," he said. "Mark's leaving has left a huge hole on the channel side. With Adrian out, and now Mark Hurd, I see the channel leadership there floundering."

Next: Waiting For Hurd To Call

John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing at Denali Advanced Integration, a Redmond, Wash.-based HP partner who also does some business with Oracle, said he will not be surprised when Denali and other top HP solution providers get a call from Hurd to do more with Oracle.

Hurd is known to make the rounds with channel partners and do what it takes to help them win business. "He knows that, to extend his reach, he needs to engage with professionals like Denali."

Oracle bringing Hurd on board is only good news for customers and for channel partners, Convery said. "I'm not a fortune teller, but over time this will enhance the channel for Oracle," he said.

Convery compared Oracle's hiring of Hurd to SAP's hiring of 24-year HP veteran Kevin Gilroy. Gilroy joined SAP early this year, and and in July was appointed senior vice president of small and midsize enterprise where he runs channels for the company.

"We're seeing more and more executives take charge of the channel," Convery said. "They know they can't reach the midmarket and secondary markets without the reach of the channel."

But not everyone see's Oracle's hiring of Hurd as that company's quick route to a new channel focus.

Next: Even With Hurd, It's Still No Thank You From Others

Mark Gonzalez, president of Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based solution provider, said he would be very surprised if Hurd contacted his company about selling the Oracle/Sun product.

Gonzalez said that in every conversation he has had with former Sun partners who have recently signed up with HP, the common thread is that Oracle's go-to-market strategy for the Sun product is primarily direct.

"Having said that, and in spite of my deep respect for everything that Mark achieved while he was at HP, if he did approach us about selling their product our answer would be simply, 'Thanks but no thanks. We don’t see a real market for this product,'" he said.

With its Sun acquisition, Oracle is trying to recreate the proprietary IBM vertical product stack that was prevalent in the late 70's and early 80's, including a monolith of hardware, operating system, database, middleware, and application, and the market for that stack is very limited, Gonzalez said.

"After all, who wants to be held hostage to a single manufacturer?" he said. "Those were the bad old days of the past. Last time I checked, Oracle's motto was not, 'Do no evil.'"

Steve Burke contributed to this article